A grieving mother rejects GMA's money
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2007-10-25
I saw a most unusual and admirable human interest story on ABS-CBN's TV Patrol on October 22. A mother, Mrs. Zenaida Vidamo, lost her dear son Nino who was one of the fatalities in the Glorietta 2 explosion.

Mrs. Zenaida Vidamo is nowhere as rich as the owners of Glorietta 2 but she refused to accept Madame Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's (GMA) offer of financial assistance for the victims of the mall explosion.

I found her refusal most unusual as it is admirable. It was not anything like the usual scenes of poor and desperate people sounding out their tales of woe before TV audiences in hopes of receiving dole-outs.

This is certainly most unusual because Filipinos find it difficult to refuse a Malacañang occupant. This accommodating attitude cuts across all socio-economic classes. For a grieving mother to refuse GMA’s offer of financial assistance would mean that there were contravening greater pressures.

This incident also underscores the credibility problem of GMA and what the head of the CBCP called the moral bankruptcy of the Arroyo regime. If this explosion and subsequent offer of financial assistance happened during the Cory Aquino term, would the grieving mother also refuse the offer?

The Arroyo regime has long been tempting the fates, as though inviting an early self destruction. It started on the wrong foot. GMA was the first Malacañang Palace occupant to start a term with a negative public rating. And from then on, GMA plodded from one crisis to another.

Rocked by graft and corruption scandals early on during her term, Madame Arroyo also encountered a military incident when junior officers, now known as the Magdalo Group, holed up in the Makati City Oakwood Apartments barely two years into her term.

GMA's vulnerable standing is demonstrated by the continued widespread belief that she is a fake president, her consistently negative public satisfaction ratings and more dramatically, by the election into the Senate of one prominent leader of that Oakwood incident who could not even campaign for himself because he was in jail.

What saved GMA from ouster in July 2004, amid pressures for her resignation in the wake of the Garci tapes expose, is the timely intervention of key allies like former president Fidel V. Ramos and House Speaker Joe de Venecia who rallied behind her.

GMA has largely escaped ouster because the Opposition then was dominated by remnants of the former Joseph Estrada regime that had just lost moral authority and credibility and was in no position to take over.

Having rallied around the standard of the late actor Fernando Poe Jr. during the 2004 presidential elections, the Opposition failed to enlist the support of the upper and middle classes who are key players in an extra-constitutional ouster move. Both EDSA I and EDSA II were products of upper and middle class cooperation.

But today, the situation is radically different. Today, the following factors are at play:

1. The Opposition is no longer dominated by the discredited Estrada regime. The Senate President, Manny Villar, who figured prominently in impeaching Estrada is the most popular high official in the land and is third in the power succession.

2. Senate President Manny Villar and Senator Mar Roxas, thus far the leading Opposition presidential candidates for 2010, both enjoy high public approval ratings and are not associated with the Estrada regime's sins and downfall. The bottom line is that there are winsome leaders today to rally around.

3. The regime coalition is in tatters. Speaker Joe de Venecia (JDV) has given GMA 100 days to get her act together. No matter what, JDV is the leader of the Lakas-CMD Party, the biggest political party in the regime coalition.

4. Four months ago, even the Opposition did not harbor any illusions of pursuing an impeachment case against GMA. They simply did not have the numbers in Congress. Now, with the possible break-up of the regime coalition, even the regime is scared and is seen as pre-empting an impeachment by engineering the filing of a weak case.

5. GMA's collapsing political coalition is matched by a wide scale perception of moral bankruptcy, a view that has been voiced by the CBCP president, Bishop Angel Lagdameo. Three important Catholic Bishops have asked for GMA's resignation.

6. A sure sign that something is afoot in the military, Major General Benjamin Dolorfino, head of the Marines, expressed concern over the possibility of a civil war if the soldiers take partisan positions. This confirms the existing, sharpening division in the military. It also coincides with angry and bold statements that have been expressed lately by the detained military officers.

7. The GMA regime has been associated with a series of bribery scandals that are seen as desperate moves to torpedo the deepening political crisis triggered by the ZTE scandal.

Even as a perfect political storm gathers, the GMA regime is imploding. While the Opposition is at its strongest state since 2001, public dissatisfaction with GMA is at its lowest — the GMA regime political coalition is disintegrating.

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